Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Greatest Oatmeal Streusel Muffins


I've been baking again! Nothing feels quite as wonderful on a cold, winter day to have a warm kitchen with the smell of something wonderful baking in the oven. And these muffins are wonderful! Moist, flavorful, with a crunchy streusel topping that you will want to pick off your plate to eat every last crumb.
 

I don't know if the secret to these delicious muffins is the unique recipe which includes toasting and pulverizing the oats or the oodles of melted butter.  Probably both!  I have to say that they are the best oat muffins I've ever made.  They are so tender you won't need to add any butter while eating them. They are perfect on their own.


Warm from the oven they are a little bit of sunshine on a cold day.  Wonderful with a cup of coffee for breakfast or with a glass of milk for a snack after snowman building. 


Try these - you won't regret it!

The Greatest Oatmeal Streusel Muffins


Makes 12 Muffins

Notes:  This recipe requires Old Fashioned Rolled Oats - Not Instant or Quick.My adaptation includes graham flour and ground cardamom. 

STREUSEL TOPPING

1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup (1 2/3 ounces) all purpose flour
1/3 cup pecans, chopped fine (walnuts may be substituted)
1/3 cup packed (2 1/3 ounces) light brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

MUFFINS

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 6 tablespoons melted
2 cups (6 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) all purpose flour
1/2 cup graham flour (I find Bob's Red Mill brand at my grocery store in the baking aisle) (you may omit and use just all purpose flour instead)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (my addition)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/3 cups packed (9 1/3 ounces) light brown sugar
1 3/4 cups milk
2 large eggs, beaten

To make the streusel topping, combine oats, flour, pecans, sugar, cinnamon, and salt and cardamom in a medium bowl. Drizzle the 4 tablespoons of melted butter over the mixture and stir to combine thoroughly.  Set aside.

To make the muffins, grease and flour 12-cup muffin tin (I use baking spray with flour, such as Bakers Joy).  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 10 or 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the rolled oats and cook, stirring frequently, until oats turn golden brown and smell like cooked popcorn, about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the toasted oats to a food processor and process into a fine meal, about 30 seconds. Add the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda to the oat in the food processor and pulse until combined, about 3-4 pulses.

Stir the 6 tablespoons melted butter and sugar together in a large bowl until smooth. Add the milk and eggs and whisk until smooth. Using the whisk, gently fold half of the oat mixture into wet ingredients, tapping whisk against side of bowl to release clumps. Add remaining oat mixture and continue to fold with whisk until no streaks of flour remain.

Set the batter aside for 20 minutes during which time it will thicken. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.

Using a large ice cream scoop or a 1/2 cup measuring cup, divide the batter equally among prepared muffin cups (about ½ cup batter per cup  they will be filled to the rim). Evenly sprinkle the streusel topping over muffins (about 2 tablespoons per muffin). Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the muffin tin halfway through the baking time.

Allow the muffins to cool in muffin tin on a wire rack or wooden board for about 10 minutes. Remove muffins from muffin tin and serve or let cool completely before serving. Unused muffins can be frozen to preserve freshness. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Four-Hour Baguettes - Worth Every Minute


Please don't let the title fool you, my friends.  I promise you don't have to spend four hours in your kitchen stirring or kneading in order to make these wonderful baguettes!  You will need to be around for those four hours, however, or at least be back home in one hour increments during those four hours.


Have cold? Have snow? Are the kids at home because school was cancelled?  Then this recipe is for you. Not only is it perfect weather for making bread but delicious, crusty, beautiful bread it is.  Just imagine how happy (and less crabby) your family will be when they bite into a crusty, buttery slice of warm bread. It will ALMOST make them forget they can't go outside because they'll get frost bite.


I came across this recipe on Saveur recently and the wonderful thing is that you don't need any special equipment.  Yes, a pizza stone, cast iron skillet and a stand mixer with dough hook will come in handy if you have them, but they are not absolutely necessary.


So if you have nothing more to serve with this bread than a can of soup because you can't get to the grocery store, your family will love it. All you need is flour, yeast and salt in your pantry, and this is how it's done...

Four-Hour Baguettes

Adapted from Saveur and Dan Leader

Makes 3 baguettes

1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) tap water, heated to 115° F
1 teaspoon (1/8 ounce) active dry yeast
3 1/4 cups (14 2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons course sea salt (if using table salt, only use 1-1/2 teaspoons)
Canola oil, for greasing bowl

1/2 cup ice cubes
Special Equipment: 2 baking sheets, parchment paper.  Ideal but not necessary:  Cast iron skillet, stand mixer with dough hook, large pizza stone

Place warm water and yeast in a large bowl and whisk together.  Allow to sit about 10 minutes until yeast is foamy. Add the flour and stir with a fork until dough forms making sure all of the flour is absorbed.  Allow the dough sit to for about 20 minutes for the flour to hydrate. Add salt, then transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. I used my stand mixer with dough hook to knead the dough. Shape dough into a ball by pulling sides under and transfer dough to a lightly greased bow.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and place bowl in a cold oven or microwave. Let dough rest until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Note: My dough took longer to double so I turned on the oven light to warm the oven just a little. 

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and pat into an 8-inch x 6-inch rectangle. Fold the 8-inch sides toward the middle, then fold the shorter sides toward the center. Return dough, seam side down, to the bowl. Cover with plastic again, and return to oven. Let sit until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Remove dough from the oven and place a cast–iron skillet on the bottom rack. Position another rack above the skillet, and place a baking stone or pace an upside down or rimless sheet pan on it.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and cut the dough into three equal pieces.  Shape the pieces into 14-inch ropes. Place a piece of parchment paper on a rimless baking sheet and dust lightly with flour.  Place the ropes, evenly spaced, on the paper. Lift the paper between the ropes to form pleats to separate the dough and place two tightly rolled kitchen towels on each end of the paper, creating blockades for the loaves. Cover the ropes loosely with plastic wrap and let rest until it doubled in size again, about 50 minutes.
30 Minutes for the last 50 minute rise is finished, prehead the oven to 475F.

Uncover the dough ropes and remove towels.  Flatten the parchment paper to space out loaves. Using a sharp razor, knife or scissors, slash the top of each baguette at a 30–degree angle in four spots.  Each slash should be about 3-4 inches long. Pull out the oven rack with the stone or baking sheet on it and gently slide the parchment with ropes off the baking sheet onto the baking stone or pan. Quickly add the ice.  This produces the steam that lets the loaves rise before a crust forms. Bake the baguettes until darkly browned and crisp, 20 to 30 minutes (mine took 20 minutes).  Cool before serving, if you can stand to wait. 

Unused baguettes can be frozen and reheated in the oven.